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Regional transit is one of the big issues overshadowing this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, with a panel discussion slated for Thursday and the issue atop the wish list of many business and civic leaders in attendance. Wayne County Executive Warren Evans on Tuesday posted a video he made about the difficulties in using a bus to go from downtown Detroit to Novi. Evans is a key transit proponent and is scheduled to speak at the conference on Wednesday.

But getting a Regional Transit Authority tax proposal on the November ballot is going to be impossible without the support of Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson. And it looks like Hackel will have to deflect what’s expected to be withering heat and criticism on Mackinac alone.

Patterson isn’t coming to this year’s conference. And Hackel tells Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley the RTA issue is dead to him forever.

Hackel says he wants to instead focus on SMART, the suburban bus system and helping pass a millage renewal in August. He says SMART is meeting Macomb County’s needs and is the answer for the region’s rapid-transit shortcomings.

Supporters are pushing to put an RTA tax proposal on the November ballot. An earlier RTA proposal was detected in 2016, thanks largely to overwhelming opposition from voters in Macomb County.

Daily Detroit has extensively covered transit and will be following the issue throughout the week on Mackinac. Most recently, we scrutinized Hackel’s claims that transit had nothing to do with Amazon’s decision to bypass Detroit for its HQ2 project and discussed what the opposition of Patterson and Hackel mean for the region’s economy.

This story originally appeared on our Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.

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